Soul Jazz Records continues its journey into the world of Afro-Caribbean roots music with this album of newly recorded music of Gwo Ka music recorded and produced by Soul Jazz Records on the island of Guadeloupe, French West Indies.
Gwo Ka music is a fantastic fusion of African-derived musical form ( call and response), with vocal styles that draw upon the equally powerful French chanson singers to create a truly unique combination.
Tradition Ka, made up of some of the island’s finest singers and master drummers, is part of a powerful network of politicised Gwo Ka groups on the island – upholding the traditions and cultural importance of Gwo Ka as part of a larger process of defining the identity of Guadeloupe and its culture.
This album is newly studio recorded in Pointe-A-Pitre, Guadeloupe by Soul Jazz Records. Like the cult music of Haiti’s Vodou and Cuba’s Santeria or the roots music of Belize’s Garifuna (all of which Soul Jazz have also released), Gwo Ka is the musical and cultural product of the region’s African ancestry, forcibly brought to the Caribbean through slavery.
Gwo Ka exists only in Guadeloupe, a very different island from much of the Caribbean, in that it remains a ‘department’ of its original colonial master, France. Here, the currency is the Euro and the baker sells croissant and café au lait.
This constant ‘European-ising’ of the island means that Gwo Ka plays a fundamental and important role in the defining of Guadeloupean identity. As an African-derived music, its position as a counter-balance to French influence means that the definition of how and what Gwo Ka represents is also in a constant state of flux.
These new recordings show how Gwo Ka is both a modern Caribbean music form and one firmly rooted in ancestral history.
Over the last 20 years Soul Jazz Records have been documenting and presenting the often hidden histories and deep musical worlds of Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad, the Bahamas and more. This documentation encompasses reissuing lost recordings, such as the mighty Studio One catalogue of reggae, producing films/dvds (such as the 3-hour documentary Mirror To The Soul in conjunction with British Pathé, and Dub Echoes), books (check the forthcoming photography book on the Caribbean 90 Degrees of Shade, with text by Paul Gilroy, and Kanaval) as well as travelling to the region to produce new recordings.